In 1972, Chris Foss and Foster Rose opened a houseplant store in a Bellingham retail center Foss fondly remembers as a “hippy mall,” complete with neighboring shops that sold records and candles.
With the partners’ interest in selling tropical plants, they gave their store a simple name: Greenhouse.
Today, customers won’t find flora in the shop—now located on Cornwall Avenue in downtown Bellingham—but instead a variety of home decor items, furniture and cookware. Foss said Greenhouse’s shift in inventory has been in large part due to the changing needs and wants of its customers over the course of the store’s 40 years.
“We’ve had an incredibly supportive community,” Foss said. “They’ve helped us continue to survive.”
Greenhouse celebrates its 40th anniversary with a series of daily in-store events and sales from Aug. 17 to Sept. 3.
Major events during the celebration include “Vitamix Day” (Aug. 18), where customers can enter a prize drawing to win a Vitamix kitchen mixer; “Soda Stream” (Sept. 1), which features demos of SodaStream’s popular home device that allows users to make carbonated drinks from water and flavoring; and “Le Crueset Day” (Aug. 25), where the Le Creuset cookware company will be at the store to let customers take photos with the company’s famous “truckette”—a 1960s-era Citroen delivery truck.
Foss said expanding the business has been both challenging and rewarding. What started as a small plant store now employs 22 people between Greenhouse’s sales and office staff and its warehouse, located on Grant Street in Bellingham.
“When you’re dealing with retail and dealing with the public, it’s different everyday,” Foss said. “It’s impossible to be bored.”
For information on additional events during the 40th anniversary celebration, visit Greenhouse online or on Facebook.
This article was revised on Aug. 15, 2012: A photo caption had referred to Foster Rose with an incorrect first name.
Evan Marczynski Photos